Children’s Rights, along with local advocates in Connecticut, brought civil rights class action Juan F. v. Lamont against the Connecticut child welfare system to address the harm done to kids both at the front end of the system, as well as children removed and placed into institutions and other out of home foster care.
The alleged dangerous and unlawful policies and practices of the defendants, including the failure to provide adequate child protective services, the failure to make reasonable efforts to keep families together, and the failure to provide minimally adequate staffing and appropriate care for children.
In March of 2022, Chief United States District Judge Stefan J. Underhill ruled that the defendants met and sustained all required outcome measures and issued an order to close the case. DCF prioritizes keeping families together and avoiding the trauma of investigation, family separation, and removal to foster care and has dramatically reduced the placement of children in institutions while increasing the placement of children with relatives and kin, where children are known to do better and have better long-term outcomes. The agency has also demonstrated a real commitment to eliminating the racial disparity in child welfare, and to provide community-based mental health services that play a key role in keeping kids at home, and families together.
THE PROGRESS SPEAKS FOR ITSELF
From 2006 – 2022, the state made enormous strides
Named Plaintiff Juan F. was 10 years old at the time the complaint was filed. He was removed from his mother in 1985 without the state first attempting to keep him with his family. During his first three years in foster care, Juan was bounced among 11 different foster homes until he was finally evaluated at a mental health clinic, which recommended treatment and a goal of adoption. Instead, however, Juan was next placed in a short-term shelter facility for 11 months. Visits from ever-changing caseworkers were rare and inconsistent. Juan was never able to visit with his sister and brother, from whom he was separated when he entered foster care. After four years in foster care, he still had not received adequate efforts toward finding him an adoptive home.
Named Plaintiffs Dominique and Patrick S. are brothers who were ages seven and five at the time the complaint was filed. Despite multiple reports of severe neglect by their biological parents, cursory investigations failed to identify the danger the children were living in. It was not until police responded to a call and found the boys living in squalid conditions with no food, no furniture and drug paraphernalia around them that they were removed from their home and placed into foster care. The caseworker assigned to them had been employed for only five months, had received no training and had been given a caseload of almost 100 children.